1. I am delighted to be here today at the National Convention of our great party – the People’s Democratic Party. Let me congratulate our party members across the country on the successful conduct of congresses from the ward to the state and zonal levels, and particularly on the success of today’s Convention. I, equally, thank every member of our great party for their perseverance and hard work.
2. As Nigeria’s foremost political party, the PDP should continue to lead by example with an utmost sense of responsibility in order to set the pace in the march to consolidate and stabilize our democracy. I urge all our members to remain committed, and to be prepared to continue to work for the interest of our party and the country. For the PDP family, the contest for party offices does not produce winners and losers. We are all winners because our primary interest is to strengthen and unite the party.
3. Unity speaks to the greatness of our party and will make us greater still. This is the time; this is the moment to build afresh from within. I urge all our members to remain united and place the party’s interest above personal ambition.
4. In the political history of our dear country since independence in 1960, the PDP is the only party that has united Nigerians across all the geo-political zones. It is a national party that reflects the diversities of our cultures and religions. Although our party makes no claim to perfection, it has helped to nurture our democracy in the last 13 years by providing a common platform for all interest groups to realize their dreams and aspirations within the Nigerian Federation.
5. Let me, therefore, salute the foresight and vision of the founders of our great party, for evolving a strong political platform as a vehicle to strengthen our democracy, and give our citizens hope for a better tomorrow.
6. We gather here today at this Convention, to uphold old and tested values as well as to chart a new course. Among other things, is the election of the new National leaders who will run the affairs of this party and see us through this journey for the next four years. Let me on behalf of our great party congratulate those who have emerged as our National Officers. You are welcome on board. Congratulations.
7. As we welcome the new leadership, let me on behalf of you all, offer our sincere appreciation to the outgoing executive members led by the former Acting Chairman, Dr. Abubakar Kawu Baraje for providing energetic and purposeful leadership at a very critical period in our party’s history. We salute their courage and industry. We enjoin those who have now been entrusted with the mantle of leadership after them to follow their footsteps by working hard to position our party for the pressing tasks ahead. In our electoral processes we must not deviate from the tenets of free, fair and credible elections.
8. However, while it is true that the PDP is a winning party and our electoral victories attest to this, we must continuously strengthen and reform the party to retain our leadership position. The reforms in our great party should start at the grassroots by strengthening the party organs at that level to be focused, visionary and functional. The PDP has a vision that is embedded in the manifesto of the party, the challenge before us is to make the party more cohesive, and that can only be realized with everybody, within the party, in or out of government, driving that vision.
9. We should continue to enforce discipline within our party and guard against conduct that can bring the party into disrepute. We must be a party where internal discipline is supreme and a guiding anchor of our processes. We must eschew bickering and remain united in the pursuit of our goals. As members of a great party, we must resist the temptation to allow inordinate ambition and what appears to be a growing obsession with the politics of succession in 2015, to cause disaffection within our ranks. We have an obligation, each and every one of us, to ensure that our party remains a party of values and fresh ideas.
10. We must transform into a party of innovation by improving and renewing our structures and procedures regularly to prolong and ensure our relevance in the hearts and minds of the people. Such a transformation will mark a critical threshold in the fulfillment of our historic responsibilities. To achieve this, the party must first begin to improve on its capacity as an incubator of ideas. I want to see a ruling Party that will, in-between elections, be a melting-pot of ideas on how to excel in the provision of the total good of the people for whom it exists in the first place.
11. I want to see a ruling PDP that will set the best standards for party discipline and democracy on the continent and beyond.
12. Party rules must be enforced until they are changed, and such rules must apply to all members equally. The doctrine of the supremacy of the party may seem over-flogged, but my belief is that party members, wherever they may be, must be seen to be more supportive of our government, and the administration’s Transformation Agenda.
13. The restoration of democracy and constitutional rule in 1999 has returned the country to the path of sustainable development and steady economic growth. As leaders, we have to continue to make concerted efforts and sacrifices to build our economy as the basis to stabilize and consolidate our democracy. The PDP must be driven by issues of development and must align its reform agenda to current realities, in our quest to build a modern and prosperous economy.
14. In the last 13 years, PDP governments have carried out far-reaching reforms in the various sectors of the economy to serve as building blocks for sustainable development and to grow our capacity in local production and improve the quality of service delivery. We are also now at various levels in the implementation of reform policies in key sectors of the economy. I assure you that very soon, tangible results will begin to come in, for Nigerians to appreciate some of the tough decisions we have had to take in the last two years to improve the quality of life of our citizens.
15. In recent times, the economic reforms implemented by the PDP administration led to increase in our oil production, up to 2.6 million barrels per day. The implementation of the local content policy in the oil and gas sector is also helping to grow indigenous capacity. In addition, investments are being encouraged in the power sector, and a comprehensive roadmap for the power sector is being implemented, with a view to stabilizing power supply in the country.
16. We are rehabilitating all our hydro-power plants for optimal capacity utilization, alongside the construction of ten power plants of which three will be commissioned this year. This is in addition to renewing our transmission and distribution capacity to ensure adequate power supply to all parts of the country.
17. Our administration has also resolved to make Nigeria a major player in the international gas market through the implementation of the Nigerian Gas Master-Plan. We have designed a framework for the expansion of gas infrastructure within the domestic market to boost commercial exploitation of gas for domestic consumption and export. The Gas Master-Plan is a roadmap to fully harness our gas potentials and meet the challenges of gas supply to our power plants.
18. The diversification of the economy is progressing steadily with sustained increase in non-oil GDP growth, particularly through agricultural production. Our country has continued to record favourable ratings from international credit agencies due to the success of our economic reform programmes. Nigeria’s exit from the Paris Club, a feat achieved under a PDP-led administration, has freed more resources that now go into investment in human capital and economic development annually.
19. I assure you that we will continue to expand the frontiers of reforms to consolidate on the successes recorded by our predecessors.
20. The political reforms, which are aimed at restructuring our democratic process, will go a long way in stabilizing our democracy. We will continue to ensure that the votes of Nigerians count in every election.
21. Our administration is consolidating democracy through strict ob
servance of the rule of law and creating a favourable environment for freedom of political association and the freedom of expression particularly with the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act.
22. We are also in the process of encouraging the National Assembly to amend aspects of the Nigerian Constitution in line with the expressed desire of the people, to have a Constitution that addresses those issues that can strengthen our union. The administration has since set up a Committee, whose mandate is no more than to take a stock of all the issues at stake, arising from previous political reform conferences, and inputs by various stakeholders.
23. This is about building a new Nigeria, a better and stronger Nigeria, secure and united at home and respected abroad. This is the vision that we have encapsulated in the Transformation Agenda. The vigorous and relentless pursuit of the well-thought out objectives of the Agenda is the impetus for our every action.
24. We have anchored the Transformation Agenda on good governance, human capital development, and infrastructural renewal. It is our belief and resolve that improvement in the governance index at all levels is crucial to attaining development. We have to change the perception of governance positively and strengthen institutions for effective service delivery.
25. I re-assure you that our administration is committed to making a difference. Already, we are approaching the final stages of the maiden edition of the YouWin! Programme. It is delightful to report that the promises we made under this programme are being delivered. Out of 24, 000 applications received in October 2011, 1, 200 winners have emerged through a fair and transparent screening process. It is envisaged that after three cycles of the competition, a total of 3, 600 entrepreneurs will be supported to create 80, 000 to 110, 000 jobs.
26. We have also launched the Public Works Women and Youth Empowerment (PW/WYE) programme which is designed to employ up to 320, 000 youths in public utilities and special activities and 50, 000 youths on a graduate internship scheme for a total of 370, 000 jobs.
27. The budgetary process for the 2012 Fiscal Framework has been much smoother this year than in previous years due to strong interaction between the National Assembly and the Federal Executive. It is important to note that the 2012 budget provides a solid macroeconomic framework upon which necessary investment could be made in key sectors of the economy as contained in this administration’s Transformation Agenda.
28. We have been having some challenges with threats to national security, due to the activities of some misguided and criminal elements in our society. The security agencies have done a lot to contain the threat. We are determined to overcome. The war against terror is a global challenge, we are resolved to play our part in tackling this scourge squarely in order to continue to guarantee the sanctity of human life. What we need is the collaboration and support of all Nigerians, including the media establishment. Whenever a country is challenged, the people have an obligation to bond together.
29. As we conduct the National Convention of our great party today, I call on all our members to continue to support the administration. The nation is ready for Transformational change. What the nation expects from the PDP is an enhanced capacity to mobilize for national transformation. The fight against corruption must be understood clearly as a PDP major policy commitment, and it must succeed like our policy of one man, one vote; one woman, one vote; and one youth, one vote.
30. We must seize this moment and opportunity to stamp out corruption in order to impact on the quality of lives of millions of Nigerians who voted for us and who are shortchanged each time a corrupt deal goes undetected. The Party must unite on this issue, both in words and in actions!
31. At the end of this Convention, I expect a stronger, more disciplined, more focused and more cohesive PDP, a PDP that will continue to organise free and fair elections, a PDP that will be known for the high ethical standards of its members, a PDP that will remain a united family, a PDP that we can all be proud of. All the efforts we have put into this Convention will only be meaningful if we continue to conduct ourselves in the most democratic manner as well as respect and support the results of the elections and the leaders that have emerged.
32. As I conclude this address, let me once again congratulate our new party leaders at the wards, Local Government, State, and Zonal levels, as well as the National officers and Members of the National Working Committee. Let me specially congratulate the National Chairman, Dr. Bamanga Tukur and the National Secretary, His Excellency Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who will be at the apex of our party’s leadership for the next four years.
Being the text of a speech by the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, after the election of members of the National working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party in Abuja on Saturday.